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28 Aug 2020, 13:21
Julian Wettengel

Must accelerate climate action over coming years – Germany’s Merkel

Clean Energy Wire

Germany has made decisive steps in regards to the climate challenge in past years, but efforts have to increase, Chancellor Angela Merkel told journalists during her annual press conference in Berlin. “For very real reasons, we will accelerate rather than slow down our efforts here in the coming years, because we can see that when climate change threatens our livelihoods, but even more so the livelihoods in Africa - it has something to do with flight and migration,” the chancellor said. The current coronavirus pandemic and climate change are both large and life-threatening crises that are about a “sustainable way of life,” she said. “I hope we will learn from these challenges, both in dealing with biodiversity and climate-harmful emissions." Keeping the economy going is among the key priorities for the German government this autumn, for example by making it future-proof through “strengthening climate-friendly technologies and digitalisation, laying the groundwork for the next chapter of the energy transition and the use of hydrogen.”

Merkel said making the EU CO₂-neutral by 2050 would be a “very ambitious task, which will demand many changes from us” and had to be fulfilled in a very limited timeframe. By mid-century, “young climate activists will then be right in the middle of their working lives. That's why we now have to adjust the 2030 targets for the EU,” she said. Here, Merkel came out in favour of extending emissions trading to other sectors. “I hope that we succeed in introducing emissions trading not only for industrial emissions, but also for mobility and heat emissions, because the price signal we have learned is the most important signal for bringing about change.” On a global level, the planned UN climate conference COP26 in Glasgow next year would be about improving the national targets of the individual member states, because so far the sum of all efforts globally is not yet enough to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.

Asked about the contentious natural gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2, the chancellor said: “We want it to be completed.” Construction has been halted as the United States introduced sanctions on companies involved. “We are against the extraterritorial sanctions imposed by the United States of America,” said Merkel.

Merkel has in the past been dubbed “climate chancellor” for her commitment in international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, her track record is mixed, especially at EU level where she has in the past worked against tighter emissions limits for cars and only hesitantly signed on to the goal of climate neutrality by 2050.

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